Recently in Technology Category

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope Sunshield Stacks Up to Test, NASA

"The Sunshield on NASA's James Webb Space Telescope is the largest part of the observatory--five layers of thin membrane that must unfurl reliably in space to precise tolerances. Last week, for the first time, engineers stacked and unfurled a full-sized test unit of the Sunshield and it worked perfectly."

National Research Council Report Says It's Too Soon for 3-D Printing to Significantly Enhance Space Operations, SpaceRef Business

"A National Research Council report, 3D Printing in Space, says it's too soon for 3-D Printing to significantly enhance space operations. Released today, the report includes several recommendations including that NASA and the Air Force should jointly cooperate, possibly with other agencies and industry, "to to research, identify, develop, and gain consensus on standard qualification and certification methodologies for different applications."

"Many of the claims made in the popular press about this technology have been exaggerated." said Robert Latiff, chair of the committee that wrote the report, president of Latiff Associates, and a former Air Force Major General. "For in-space use, the technology may provide new capabilities, but it will serve as one more tool in the toolbox, not a magic solution to tough space operations and manufacturing problems. However, right now NASA and the Air Force have a tremendous resource in the form of the International Space Station," Latiff added. "Perfecting this technology in space will require human interaction, and the Space Station already provides the infrastructure and the skilled personnel who can enable that to happen."

Related: Too Soon for 3-D Printing to Significantly Enhance Space Operations, Report Says, National Research Council

Made In Space 3D Printer Gets Green Light from NASA for Launch, SpaceRef Business

Reader note:"I was at the DRC all week. NASA showed up with the most awesome/expensive looking tracker/trailer.  It had a custom paint job, new custom "pelican" cases for all equipment, a fold out tent on the side, and a $15K Cadillac golf cart (image). The team, if you view their videos had 50+ workers, a high-bay work area, a specialize sewing team and a seemingly unlimited tax payer funded budget. Here's photo of it next to the Google buses." Larger image

-NASA JSC's Valkyrie Robot Tied For Last Place in DARPA Competition, earlier post
- No One is in the Driver's Seat at NASA, earlier post
- NASA JSC Has Developed A Girl Robot in Secret (Revised With NASA Responses), earlier post, earlier post

More pictures below

Keith's 30 Oct 4:52 pm note: What is innovate.nasa.gov? It claims to be "a collaboration platform to foster open discussion about technology across NASA and its external innovation community. This is the place for you to rethink and reinvent existing research, learn about NASA technology, and shape the conversation about future NASA innovation. We post information about NASA's inventions and technology focus areas. You join other technology experts, researchers, and innovators in conversation about this NASA technology. We challenge you to think about new ways to use NASA inventions, share a new perspective to encourage innovation, and inspire new ideas."

But in order to see what they do you have to login by giving them access to your Twitter account. If you create a new user account you are asked to add a picture of yourself and provide other social media account information. If you are under 13 you are told to get your parent's permission. Once you get in - well, no one is there. If you go to "The Buzz" touted as a "real time news feed" other than "njaiuto" and "colin_graham" who visited last year (apparently) no one is home. Yet someone regularly operates their Twitter account @InnovateDotNASA. They have an up to date Facebook page too.

None of the usual (and required) responsible official or contact names are included on this website. No mention is made of this site from any NASA technology websites at NASA HQ. The site says "Innovate.NASA is the web-based component of NASA's Innovation Ecosystem--an agency-wide initiative to foster technology innovation." The NASA Innovation Ecosystem page explains little about itself and seems to be a year out of date. It refers to "(In)novation Partners" except there are none. When you go to the contact us link you get "access denied". And so on.

The Innovation Ecosystem page is run by NASA CIO so maybe they are responsible for innovate.nasa.gov. But what is this website supposed to do if no one visits it? Why is this information hidden behind a firewall that requires usernames and logins? How much did it cost to create - and now - how much does it cost to maintain this NASA website - that no one uses?

Keith's 30 Oct 9:42 pm update: Several readers have noticed that the site's firewall/login has been lowered. Gee, what a coincidence. Isn't it pathetic that NASA spent all this money on this site and then let it sit dormant -- and only when they got caught with their pants down did they start to get active. Makes you wonder if this site is even needed given that no one noticed it until I posted some snarky observations.

Keith's 2 Nov update: The website now has this message: "Our site is currently under construction, but we will be re-launching soon. Stay tuned..." Despite repeated requests, the NASA CIO has refused to respond to all inquiries about this website. I guess its FOIA time.

NASA Technology That Can't Link To Itself, earlier post

Keith's note: NASA Office of the Chief Technologist has no link to NASA Tech Briefs. NASA Tech Briefs does not link to NASA OCT. In fact, I did a search of the source HTML code on the NASA Techbriefs home page. There are no links to anything at NASA.gov whatsoever. Yet this page features the NASA logo. Baffling.

NASA Engages the Public to Discover New Uses for Out-of-this-World Technologies

"NASA has joined forces with the product development startup Marblar for a pilot program allowing the public to crowdsource product ideas for forty of NASA's patents. This initiative will allow Marblar's online community to use a portion of NASA's diverse portfolio of patented technologies as the basis of new product ideas."

Keith's note: There is no mention of this overt technology news item from the other day on NASA's main Technology page. Given that Congress is already looking for vulnerable accounts with easy money to solve their budget problems next year (paying for SLS, Commercial Crew, Space Science) and the long knives are already out to carve up NASA's technology budget windfall and use it to solve other problems. If NASA cannot do a better job coordinating its technology portfolio and explain what it does with the technology money it has already gotten, then perhaps that money could be better spent on projects that the agency can explain - and justify.

Keith's update: @NASA-Technology noted that they have a list that collects all of NASA's technology Twitter account tweets. Its a start - but NASA still needs to coordinate its various technology efforts much better than it currently does. This list does not include coverage of @innovateDotNASA which is operated by innovate.nasa.gov. And I still find it unfathomable that NASA allows NASA Tech Briefs to continue to utterly ignore NASA - all while using "NASA" in its name and its logo as well.

- Another NASA Technology Data Dump No One Will Know About, earlier post
- NASA Praises a Spinoff That It Has Already Dumped, earlier post
- Bursting The NASA Spinoff Myth, earlier post
- More Stealth NASA Spinoffs, earlier post


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